Sunday, 24 August 2014

DOUBLE UP

DOUBLE UP by Vanessa North
 
Pages: 139
Date: 23/08/2014
Grade: 4.5
Details: Received from Riptide Publishing
            Through Love Romances and More
Kindle

The blurb:

“Fifteen years ago, Ben Warren was a wakeboarding champion: king of big air, ballsy tricks, and boned grabs. Until a career-ending injury left him broken in ways he still has no hope of fixing. Now he takes his thrills where he can get them, and tries not to let life hurt too much.

Then Davis Fox arrives in Ben’s sporting goods store with a plan to get in touch with his estranged brother by competing in the annual wakeboarding double-up contest. The catch? He’s never ridden before. It’s crazy, but Ben’s a sucker for the guy’s sob story—and for his dimples, too—so he agrees to coach Davis.

Davis is everything Ben isn’t: successful, confident, and in love with life. And he wants Ben to love life—and him—too. But before Ben can embrace a future with Davis, he needs to remember how to hope.”


My thoughts:

This story took me by surprise. It is told in Ben’s voice and at first he appears to be rather gruff and not altogether nice. In fact for a short while I was worried he would be too self-obsessed and opinionated for me to take to him. That impression didn’t last though. It wasn’t long before I discovered that all the bluster serves only to conceal a world of pain. Ben in fact turned out to be a very sympathetic, not altogether sure of himself and vulnerable character with issues and fears that were all too easy to relate to.

Davis was just as fascinating. I liked his decision to learn wakeboarding just so he can get back in touch with the half brother he hasn’t seen since the boy was a toddler. And I adored his tendency to blush at the slightest provocation and the stark contrast it made with his dominance as soon as he and Ben became intimate.

In fact I admired nearly everything I encountered in this book. I liked that the story dealt with real issues without spelling them out or rubbing them in our faces. Both Ben’s injury and its consequences and Davis’ troubled relationship with his mother and half-brother were presented as part of the men’s lives that had to be dealt with rather than insurmountable obstacles. There were no easy or perfect solutions either, although everything is dealt with and brought to a more than satisfying conclusion.

I loved Kinky Eddie, Ben’s friend, sometimes lover, and employer. He was a perfect secondary character, bringing both humour and an extra level of depth to what already was a gripping story.

The writing in this book was good. It gave me the opportunity to get to know Ben, and through his eyes the other characters, at a pace that was as near to perfection as a reader could hope for. If I had one issue it was that Ben would shift from dialogue into thought almost mid-sentence. I found myself having to pay close attention to punctuation marks just to know where one ended and the next started; not something I want to do when I’m lost in a story.

On the other hand, the relationship and intimacy between Ben and Davis was mesmerizing and very, very hot. And the words this author used to show us what the characters we’re experiencing occasionally took my breath away.

“I let him gentle me off to a dreamless sleep with his kisses on my tongue and his hands on my body.”

Overall this was a wonderful story and very enjoyable read by an author I’ll have to investigate further in the not too distant future.



Saturday, 23 August 2014

NOTHING SPECIAL

NOTHING SPECIAL by Jay Northcote
 
Pages: 184
Date: 21/08/2014
Grade: 4+
Details: Received from Dreamspinner Press
            Through Love Romances and More
Kindle

The blurb:

“Noah thinks he’s nothing special. Average height, a bit on the skinny side, and cute but rather geeky, he’s relentlessly ordinary. He certainly doesn’t expect to be noticed by Sol, the gorgeous dark-haired stranger Noah sees on his commute home most days. But when Noah’s friend, Dom, persuades Noah to take a huge risk in a bid to get Sol’s attention, things turn out better than Noah dared to hope. Noah and Sol start dating, and much to Noah’s surprise, his feelings seem to be reciprocated.

But Noah’s insecurities make him doubt Sol. He doesn’t believe he’s interesting enough or sexy enough to hold Sol’s attention, and as Sol tries to get closer, Noah’s instinct is to pull away to protect himself. If their relationship is going to survive, Sol needs to convince Noah that he sees Noah very differently than Noah sees himself. Because to Sol, Noah is something very special indeed.”



My thoughts:

This is a cosy read. The author draws you in and before you know it you’re at home in Noah and Sol’s world. The two young men feel natural and real from the moment they are introduced. They are recognizable which makes it very easy to become invested in their developing relationship. Noah and Sol are the sort of men you would love to be friends with. The fact that they are also very hot together is a very nice bonus.

 It is also an easy read. The story doesn’t tackle deep or shocking issues, what angst there is, is small scale, recognisable and not at all protracted. Reading Nothing Special is like wrapping yourself in a woolly blanket on a cold night or like an open fire in winter. It is pure comfort.

I have endless admiration for an author who tells her stories so well that the ordinary becomes special. Jay Northcote’s words paint a captivating picture. In fact, I found it impossible to put the book down once Noah and Sol got together. I had to keep going until I could be sure they were going to be happy.


And all of that made this a delightful reading experience. Of course there are times when I want my books to challenge me or push at my comfort levels. But there are at least as many occasions when I just want to lose myself in a story, get captured by the romance and enjoy the beauty of it all. Nothing Special is the book for such moments. It delivers a well written, easy to read and utterly charming story. For me it meant a few hours of pure reading bliss. And it also means I’ve found myself an author to add to my ‘comfort read’ list.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

BOLD by Garrett Leigh Blog Tour and Review

It is my pleasure and honour to introduce Garrett Leigh and her latest release: BOLD


About the book:

Don’t underestimate me…

Dancer Kai is the sweetheart of Blue Boy studio. Cute and petite, he’s the slender bottom every top loves to pound. But nothing is ever quite as it seems, and beneath his golden curls and giggles lies something else…an edge no one can quite put their finger on.

Is Kai bored? Or does he crave something more?

Blue Boy Studio is under new ownership. Veteran porn star Jude has seen it all before, and with the help of Kai’s mentor, Cam, they figure Kai needs a change. Enter Matthew, a fellow dancer and the newbie on the block.

Kai isn’t impressed. Matthew is hot and all, but Jude and Cam’s plans seem beyond his reach. Can Kai really do…that? He doesn’t believe it, but with Matthew along for the ride, it’s time to dig deep, be bold, and find out.

My review:

This is the third book in the Blue Boy series but only the second book in this series I’ve read. For some reason I managed to miss Bullet and I know I will have to go back and remedy that situation before too long.

As in the previous book, Bones, Garrett Leigh has given us a multi-layered story. This series is set in the world of porn so the reader is treated to quite a few hot and steamy sex scenes. But, surprising as it may sound, sex is not what these stories are about. These books are about characters who, while working in the industry, are so much more than ‘just’ beautiful sex objects. We get to watch them as they figure out what the rest of their lives look like, who they are and what they might be without the dancing and porn videos.

This book focuses on Kai who is not an easy character to describe or pin down. On the surface he appears confident and in charge but scratch a little bit deeper and you find loneliness and insecurities. Kai is dyslexic and hasn’t finished high school as a result. When he’s encouraged to take exams so he can further his education he doesn’t believe he can do it. His battle with himself and his constant doubts are heartbreaking at times. He doesn’t show it but feels less than good enough due to what he perceives as his stupidity and watching him as he overcomes that prejudice about himself was wonderful.

The developing relationship between Kai and Matthew was mesmerizing. The two young men should be cock-sure and confident with each other. Given their backgrounds and the fact that they’re thrown together to come up with a scene for the next video, you’d expect them to indulge in an almost constant sex fest. Instead they take it easy; indulging in endless and very hot kissing sessions and refusing to take things all the way for reasons Kai can’t explain, even to himself.

Because the whole book was told from Kai’s perspective, Matthew remained a bit of an enigma throughout the story. Under different circumstances I might have resented that. In this book it worked very well though. Once Kai’s insecurities create a problem it is possible to understand him and sympathize with his fears because the reader doesn’t know anything more than Kai does.

The attack Kai falls victim to while dancing in the club isn’t really resolved in this story. Again something that might have upset me. I’ve come to realize though that while these books tell stories that can and do stand on their own, they are very much part of a series. I have no doubt this attack will have a follow up in future titles. Just as the stories of the characters we met in Bullet and Bones are still developing. Since I’m always curious what happens to the characters who have managed to grab me, once the book ends, this continuation of their stories is a wonderful gift.

Garrett Leigh has proven herself to be an author who writes great stories, using beautiful words while never shirking difficult topics or issues. In fact, this author’s books work so well for me because she gives her characters real problems (as opposed to imagined ones) to deal with. This book, in fact the whole series, is a treat for anyone who likes their sexy men with a dose of real and recognisable substance.  

About the author:

Garrett Leigh is a British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, and Black Jazz Press. Her protagonists will always be tortured, crippled, broken and deeply flawed. Throw in a tale of enduring love, some stubbly facial hair, and a bunch of tattoos, and you're got yourself a Garrett special.

When not writing,  Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible. That, and dreaming up new ways to torture her characters. Garrett believes in happy endings; she just likes to make her boys work for it.

Garrett also works as a freelance cover artists for various publishing houses and independent authors under the pseudonym G.D. Leigh. For cover art info, please visit http://www.blackjazzpress.com/

Social media:

Cover art enquiries: blackjazzdesign@gmail.com

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Promotion: Paint The Sky by Lily G. Blunt


I'm delighted to welcome the wonderful Lily G. Blunt to my blog. Her new book Paint The Sky will be released in ten days. Read all about it below.





by
Lily G. Blunt

Genre: M/M, Contemporary Romance and Erotica
Length: 65,000 Words/230 pages
Release Date: August 30, 2014
ASIN: B00MSYA1JQ



BLURB:

A love of art...

A mutual interest in art draws two shy university students together. Ben admires Vinnie’s painting of the university building, so Vinnie invites him to an exhibition of his artwork. From a wealthy family, Ben purchases some of Vinnie’s art and arranges for the artist to personally hang the paintings in his apartment.

Starry, starry night...

Ben commissions Vinnie to paint his portrait, in order to spend more time with the artist. On the night of the sitting, Vinnie fingerpaints the starry night on Ben’s chest... and they kiss. They begin a relationship beneath the night sky, God’s own canvas.

But every relationship has its ups and downs and so it is with theirs. When Ben thinks Vinnie spends too much time with a fellow artist, his jealousy drives a wedge between them and forces Vinnie into the very thing Ben dreads.

Hold tight to your dreams...

Ben and Vinnie will have to walk through fire before they can find one another again. But if they believe, and if they keep their faith in the night sky and each other, just maybe they can make their dreams of love come true.

EXCERPT:

Vinnie led me across the room, pulling me by the shirt. “Lie back on the sofa for me and I'll paint you.”
As if in a dream, I settled my head against one arm of the sofa, my legs dangling over the other end, scarcely breathing now. Vinnie knelt on the floor beside me with an open pot of paint in his hand.
Teasingly, he dipped his index finger into the dark blue paint as if it were cream he would lick off. His finger connected with my skin and he made short strokes across my chest, the coldness of the paint making me shiver.
Mesmerised by the closeness of his beautiful face, the view of the night sky through the window, and the picture forming upon my chest, I watched as dab after dab and stroke after stroke he built up a mix of shades, until a dark night sky with the moon and stars were there to be seen—a masterpiece, drying on the warmth of my blazing skin, a transient thing of beauty. His fingers skimmed my skin causing gooseflesh to ripple in waves down my arms and thighs. My nipples pebbled in response to his touch.
And when he was done, his lips met mine in a languid kiss; how our first kiss should have been—sweet, innocent, and full of promise. He pulled away, smiling down at me.
This was the beginning of something special.



BUY/PRE-ORDER LINKS:




LILY G. BLUNT’S BIO:

Lily G. Blunt writes contemporary gay romance and erotica. She loves to explore the relationship between two men and the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. Angst often features in her stories as she feels this demonstrates the depth of the men’s feelings for each other. Lily is forever writing imaginary scenes and plots in her head, but only a few ever make it to the page—there never seems to be enough hours in the day despite having left the teaching profession to concentrate on her writing!

Lily discovered the wonderful world of m/m romance novels four years ago via fan fiction and went on to write stories in her spare time. With the encouragement of her friends and readers she decided to publish some of her work.

Lily has several self-published stories available on Amazon. She is also published with Torquere Press and Wayward Ink Publishing.

Easily distracted from her writing, Lily makes videos using clips from gay-themed movies and posts gorgeous pictures of men kissing or making out on her tumblr and Facebook pages. Lily is also an avid supporter of GLBTQ rights and advocates equality for all.

Lily lives in central England with her rather bemused husband, two twenty-something children, and a ‘mad as a bag of frogs’ Shetland Sheepdog.


LILY G. BLUNT’S SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6586037.Lily_G_Blunt

Sunday, 17 August 2014

TRUSTING LOVE

TRUSTING LOVE by Mari Evans
 
Pages: 200
Date: 17/08/2014
Grade: 4
Details: Own copy
Kindle

The blurb:

“Laurie Stallon isn’t like other high schoolers. After suffering years of abuse at his father’s hands, he now lives in a foster care facility and finds solace volunteering at the local animal shelter. Laurie’s had to grow up fast, and even though his eighteenth birthday is still weeks away, he’s more adult than most adults he knows. When he meets Dr. Sam Davies, the new shelter veterinarian, the attraction is instant. They become friends at work, but Laurie knows Sam will never go for someone like him. No matter how Laurie tries to prove his maturity to Sam, Sam continues to reject him as too young.

Needing a distraction, Laurie goes out dancing for his birthday and finds his life in danger yet again. When Sam is called to the hospital, he realizes Laurie needs someone to care for him. Sam takes him home, and they slowly build a relationship. But more than their age difference works against them. Facing the disapproval of friends and the scars from Laurie's past, they'll need to put all their trust in love for a chance at a future together.”

My thoughts:

What can I say? This is the sweetest of love stories. I dare anyone to meet Laurie and not want to adopt him, give him a huge hug and make sure he’s safe. Everything the boy has gone through and encounters in the story is enough to break your heart. It is completely understandable that he awakens all sorts of protective instincts in the 10 year older Sam Davies.

One of the things I really liked in this book is that Mari Evans made both characters multi-dimensional.

While Sam is clearly older, wiser and more emotionally stable than Laurie, he is by no means perfect. Occasionally, his emotions take over when reason should reign, which makes him a relatable character.

Similarly, it would have been easy, and believable, to write Laurie as a typical victim, either completely hiding in his shell or stand-offish. The fact that she gave him a sunny disposition to counteract his fears and insecurities made him all the more adorable as a character.

The fact that Laurie is in a lot of ways grown up for his age while Sam is not quite as grown up as he likes to think also makes the relationship between the two of them more believable.

Another thing that worked really well for me was the careful and tender way in which the physical relationship between these two men develops. The fact that it's also incredibly hot is a wonderful bonus.

I wasn’t quite as charmed with the way the book was written. I would have liked to have gone deeper into the characters. While all their thoughts and emotions are described in clear and at times beautiful language I often couldn’t ‘feel’ what they were going through. I am however willing to concede that this may be a result of personal preferences rather than the author’s ability to tell a good story and am sure that the tone of writing will work perfectly for other readers.

Summarizing this was a sweet and ultimately uplifting love story featuring two endearing yet realistic protagonists. This book is Mari Evan’s debut and I for one will be keeping an eye on what she’ll bring us next.





Friday, 15 August 2014

HOME THE HARD WAY

HOME THE HARD WAY by Z.A. Maxfield
 
Pages: 230
Date: 14/08/2014
Grade: 3.5
Details: Received from
            Through Love Romances and More
Kindle

The blurb:

Dare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide. 

Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer. 

In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.

My thoughts:

I’m having a very hard time trying to figure out what to say about this book. It swept me from one extreme to another while I was reading. There were portions of this book I adored and drank in as slowly as I could just to savour them. And then there were sections of the story I couldn’t get through fast enough because they either irritated me or seemed to contradict the images I had formed in my mind.

In fact I had a love/hate relationship with both the characters and the story itself. When the book started I fell for Finn almost immediately while Dare left me cold. As the story unfolded that perception shifted. Dare seemed to become more defined as a character while Finn became ever more obscure. By the end of the book Dare had completely won me over but I still had reservations about Finn. Most importantly, I still had reservations about Finn being the right man for Dare. And since ‘Home the Hard Way’ is a romance, not quite seeing the connection between the two characters by the time the story ends is probably not what the author had in mind.

On the other hand – and this is where my dilemma becomes clear – I liked that the story kept me guessing. The mystery in this book wasn’t just who had committed murder, or who was after Finn, or what had happened to Dare’s father or even why things were happening. The far more intriguing mystery in this book was why the characters reacted the way they did and whether or not they’d be able to overcome whatever was holding them back for long enough to see that they might be good together.

The scenes describing Dare’s submission to Finn were breathtaking. Not only were they very hot, they also gave the reader a wonderful insight into everything going on in Dare’s head and all the conflicting emotions he was dealing with.

It is possible this book was just a little bit too dark for me. Most if not all characters in this story seem to have deep and at times heartbreaking issues. I can’t help feeling that the book would have benefitted from a bit of light relief here and there.

In short I would call this a mostly fascinating story with quite a few gorgeous scenes. The writing is good and the story keeps the reader guessing. If you like your stories a little bit darker with some clever plotting, a lot of emotion and sexy scenes, you’ll probably enjoy ‘Home the Hard Way’.


Monday, 11 August 2014

NOT QUITE BROKEN

NOT QUITE BROKEN by Diana DeRicci
 
Pages: 136
Date: 11/08/2014
Grade: 4
Details: No. 8 Arbor Heights
            Received from MLR Press
            Through Love Romances and More
Kindle

The blurb:

“Dex's life has gone into a tailspin. One night that ruined his entire world. He can't sleep, he can't eat. He's lost his job, and is about to lose the last of his sanity. When the world crashes down around him, he's ready to let the world win.

Dex has friends, though, who are determined to not let him self-combust.

One man will be there to guide him through his nightmare, to hold him to keep the demons at bay, and still let him be strong enough to find the strength to love after his darkest hour.”

My thoughts:

This book is the eight title in the Arbor Heights series. Having read none of the previous books I can safely say this book can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone. I have however no doubt that those who have read the previous titles would enjoy this opportunity to reconnect with characters they’ve met before.

Not Quite Broken’ is an emotional read. It is impossible to read this story and not have your heart break for young Dex. The twenty-one year old had only just found the courage to go dancing in a gay club when he’s brutally attacked and raped. While the physical wounds heal, the mental scars are much harder to deal with and Dex is constantly scared and insecure.

When his nightmares and fears get too much one night, Dex reaches out to Brian, the slightly older man who has stood with and beside him since the night of the attack. With Brain’s help Dex slowly ventures out into the world again. Helping Brain teach self-defence to women who have been the victim of violence not only shows Brian that he’s not alone but also teaches him techniques to keep himself safe. They’re small steps and it’s a slow process but the old Dex slowly begins to re-emerge in the safety of Brian’s company.

I adored Brain as a character. In fact, on one or two occasions he bordered on the edge of too good to be true. His endless patience, his willingness to ignore his own feelings and needs and the ease with which he transformed his own life so that Dex fitted into it seemed somewhat unrealistic at times. Especially taking into account the feelings Brian was developing for Dex and his uncertainty about the younger man’s feelings and even the appropriateness of any feelings he might be developing.

Dex was a far more realistic character for me. His road to discovery isn’t a straight line. He faces his ups and downs and only slowly finds his way back to himself. And I’m glad about that. A miracle cure as a result of love would have taken this storyline from a bit too good to be true into too unrealistic to be enjoyable for me.

The slowly developing bond and relationship between these two men was a joy to read about and at times incredibly hot even though sex played a relatively minor part in the story. It was the slow build-up of Dex’s confidence and trust that took my breath away and made the story for me.


I enjoyed this book. It was a beautiful and touching story told in a sensitive yet realistic manner. If I have one reservation it is that it all ended a bit too perfectly. While I wanted a happy ever after for these characters I did have a problem with how everything just fell into place for Dex by the time the story ended. Leaving that aside, this was a fascinating read that had me hooked from the first page and didn’t let go until the very end.  

Sunday, 10 August 2014

MAYBE THIS TIME

MAYBE THIS TIME by A.M. Arthur
 
Pages: 168
Date: 10/08/2014
Grade: 4
Details: No. 2 Belonging
            Received from Carina Press
            Through Love Romances and More
Kindle

The blurb:
As a regular at gay hotspot Pot O Gold, Ezra Kelley avoids his tangled emotions with the simplicity of one-night stands and attachment-free hookups. Until the night bartender Donner Davis picks him up off the floor after a misunderstanding and too much tequila. Ezra can't remember the last time someone was…nice. It's more than he deserves.
Witnessing his lover's death two years ago has Donner trapped in a holding pattern, living in his sister's basement, working at the Pot and flirting with the customers. He's not above spending a night with the gorgeous Ezra, but love is not in the cards. That's more than he's ready for.
A passionate night leads to a connection neither man expects, and they take the first steps to something that looks like a real relationship. But Ezra's been running from himself so long he doesn't know how to live any other way. And Donner can't risk his heart just to lose everything again. They'll both need the strength to let go of the past if they want to get it right this time.
My thoughts:
When I started this book I didn’t realize it was the sequel to ‘No Such Thing’ and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself spending more time with Jaime and Allessandro, even if they only play a supporting role in this book. The two characters taking centre stage this time, Donner and Ezra, are as fascinating as their two predecessors. They come with enough baggage to make connecting with each other harder than it should be which makes their hesitant relationship fascinating to follow. They don’t always deal with their issues in the best possible way which makes them relatable characters.
None of the issues the characters face are new to the reader. We’ve read books about parents rejecting their child before. There’s nothing new about being reluctant to commit to someone new after you’ve lost the love of your life. And yet nothing in this story felt rehashed. Their story may not be unique, these characters were and they are what made this a beautiful and hard to put down book.
It was impossible to not fall for Donner almost from the moment he is introduced to the reader. He is one of those characters who is aware of his issues, struggles with them but tries to stop himself from allowing his past to interfere with his future. Ezra on the other hand is a bit more of a handful. Younger than Donner he hasn’t yet learned to separate his past from who and what he is. His constant struggle between wanting to connect to Donner and being afraid of what it might cost him in the long run was at times heartbreaking. Watching him as he takes small steps towards a happy future was beautiful.

“Flaws are only part of a person. Our pasts are another part. But the most important part is our present. It’s the guy you are now and the guy you’re going to be down the road.” - Donner
The author pulls no punches in this book. We’re given a clear picture of everything that can and does go wrong in relationships, families and the world at large. The fact that this is a positive and ultimately uplifting story despite all the darker details proves A.M. Arthur has found the right balance between gritty realism and beautiful romance.
The writing in this book was smooth and at times awe-inspiring. The dialogue between the characters sounded real and the descriptions left me with a clear picture of Donner, Ezra and the world they live in. I’m pretty sure there will be more titles coming in the ‘Belonging’ series – I even have my suspicions about the character the next book might focus on – and I will most definitely be reading it when it comes out.

“Because nothing worth doing is ever completely easy. It’s like falling in love. You have to risk getting hurt in order to get the rewards, and usually the rewards are so fucking amazing and totally worth it.” – Donner

Friday, 8 August 2014

THE BOOK OF LIFE

THE BOOK OF LIFE by Deborah Harkness

Pages: 592
Date: 06/08/20114
Grade: 5
Details: No. 3 All Souls Trilogy
            Received from Headline Publishing
            Through Nudge
Own: ARC

The blurb:

“After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies.

At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.”

----------------------------------------------------------------

My thoughts:

“Even the darkest places need to be brought into the light of day, or else they’ll grow until they swallow a man whole.”


I’m always slightly apprehensive when I pick up the much anticipated final instalment to, what has been up until then, a fantastic trilogy. There is always the fear the finale won’t live up to expectations, that the author won’t be able to pull all the threads together. And those fears were busy niggling at me before I picked up ‘The Book of Life’. I loved both ‘A Discovery of Witches’ and ‘Shadow of Night’ when I read them. I had fallen for Diana Bishop, the witch, and Matthew Clairmont, her vampire. In the first two books the author had woven a mesmerising web filled with mystery, suspense, danger, magic and love. I needed ‘The Book of Life’ to be at least as good as its two prequels had been.

The wonderful news is that it is. This book is the crowning glory of this trilogy. It more than lives up to expectations, answered all my questions and kept me enthralled from the first chapter.

The story picks up more or less where ‘Shadow of Night’ ended and drops the reader right back into the story. There are enough small reminders to refresh the reader’s memory although I would strongly advice against reading this book unless you’ve read the prequels.  

I really don’t want to say a whole lot more about the story. I know part of my enjoyment while reading the book was that I was never completely sure what might happen next, or who would show up and why. I will say that I loved reconnecting with characters I’d come to love while reading the first two books.

The love between Matthew and Diana is as beautiful as always and yet stops short of being overly idyllic. The author has her characters say things you wish someone would say to you; things you would have loved to have said to a loved one.

“My heart no longer knows where I end and you begin.” – Matthew

And,

“If you truly love someone, you will cherish what they despise most about themselves.” – Fernando

I loved the following quote about social media. Since blue is a relaxing colour for me too, I completely get this line of thought. In fact it was one of  those ‘that’s so blindingly obvious I can’t believe it hasn’t occurred to me before’ moments.

“She could not imagine why these companies all chose shades of blue for their logos. Blue had always struck her as such a serene, soothing color, yet all social media offered was endless agitation and posturing.” – Ysabeau

Or the moment when Matthew declares that he does not and has never ‘sparkled’.

One of the strengths of this book is that it doesn’t provide all the answers. We’re not given a fairytale ending. There are no miracle cures (not even for vampires) and problems don’t just evaporate. In fact, one or two problems continue to form a threat. I wouldn’t mind if that meant we might get to visit with Diana and Matthew again in the future but I won’t be upset if it doesn’t. The author leaves us at a point where things have slotted into place for this couple. Yes, they will face obstacles in the future, but we know they’ve reached a place where, together, they can face pretty much anything.

This was very close to a perfect reading experience. I lost myself in the story on the first page and didn’t resurface until I had read every single word. It is the sort of book you want to race through because you need to find out what will happen next and how they are going to solve their problems. It is also the sort of book you want to drag out for as long as you can because you know this is the last of it and you don’t want the story to end. I can’t wait to see what Deborah Harkness is going to come up with next.


“To every question I have ever had, or ever will have, you are the answer.” – Matthew